Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Attack, Londoners Say They Won't Stop Living Their Lives


We're going to start the program again today in the United Kingdom which is coming to terms with the third terrorist attack in three months. As we've been reporting throughout the weekend, three men driving a van drove into pedestrians on London Bridge Saturday night. When their car stopped, they jumped out to stab people at restaurants and bars.

Seven are dead, and some 21 are critically wounded. The three assailants were shot and killed by police. We're going now to NPR's Eleanor Beardsley who's in London for the latest. Eleanor, thanks so much for speaking with us.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: It's good to be with you, Michel.

MARTIN: So what has been happening after the attack last night?

BEARDSLEY: Well, today police have been raiding houses in East London, and they've arrested 12 people that may know or be associated with the three men who they say are involved in the attack. The London Bridge and the Borough Market area of restaurants - and where the attack took place last night has been cordoned off, and people were going out there today, you know, just lay flowers or just to see it.

And there was a group leaving, you know - rolling suitcases out. They were from Los Angeles. And I talked to Wesley Gross, and he says their hotel was right in the middle of it all. And here he is.

WESLEY GROSS: You know, we heard the gunfire. We were in the room. And we could hear people yelling and screaming and coming running because it's just down the street. So they were running, and a bunch of them came inside the hotel and - to have cover. And then they locked the doors up. Then I could see the police outside with automatic rifles and yelling at people, getting people in and continue going. I heard gunfire. And so it was pretty wild, then finally we went to bed. And then about a half an hour later, they came pounding and said get out right now.

MARTIN: Can you tell us a little bit about how the police brought all this under control last night?

BEARDSLEY: Well, of course, as the violence started, the calls began coming in. And today the spokesman for Scotland Yard talked about that a little. It was the first responding officers who came upon these stabbing lunatics who were just going in restaurants and slashing people on the streets. So Mark Rowley, the spokesman, he was trying to explain why eight officers had emptied 50 rounds into the three attackers. He says it's justified because the men, Michel, were wearing suicide belts. And at that point, no one knew that they were fake. And here's what Mark Rowley said.


MARK ROWLEY: Three men wearing what appeared to be suicide belts - they had already attacked and killed members of the public. They had to be stopped immediately.

MARTIN: So, Eleanor, given all this, could you just describe the mood there? How are people reacting to all this?

BEARDSLEY: Well, you know, I feel like I've been through this too many times. I was in Manchester less than two weeks ago where there was an attack there. People say they do not want to stop living their lives the way they want to. But, Michel, this is the third terrorist attack in three months. It's the second with people being, you know, hit on a bridge. And it's, again, less than two weeks after the Manchester concert attack that killed 22 people.

Ariana Grande and other famous artists are back in Manchester tonight for a benefit concert that sold out and is being broadcast live on television tonight. But people in London, I have to say, were a little jittery. The feeling of, God, it's happened again. And I spoke with London cab driver Glen Yeaned, and here's what he told me.

GLEN YEANED: Do I feel safe? I don't think I've ever felt safe because it's so - you can't stop everybody with rucksacks on. It's sad, but life has to go on. You know, I'm not going to hide behind my door and close my windows. You know, life has to go on, and I'm not going to let them rule my life or where I go.

BEARDSLEY: His comment - sort of sum it up - people don't really feel safe, but they're determined to keep living their lives.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, Eleanor, you know, the President of the United States Donald Trump expressed himself in a number of tweets in the immediate after that one of them criticized London's mayor. And a number of American news organizations have pointed out that he seems to have mischaracterized what the mayor said. But I was wondering if there was a reaction there to these tweets coming from the U.S. president?

BEARDSLEY: Yes, absolutely. Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had more important things to do than to respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet, he called it. And he said Trump had deliberately taken his comments out of context. Khan who had told Londoners don't be alarmed when you see more police, you know, and armed officers on the streets, and Trump had tweeted that he said don't be alarmed after all of these deaths. And so Khan said he's busy working with the police in response to this act to lead the city and reassure the people.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reporting from London. Eleanor, thank you so much for speaking with us.

BEARDSLEY: You're welcome Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Eleanor Beardsley began reporting from France for NPR in 2004 as a freelance journalist, following all aspects of French society, politics, economics, culture and gastronomy. Since then, she has steadily worked her way to becoming an integral part of the NPR Europe reporting team.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.